Allies React Cautiously to Bush Speech

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With doubts still deep, there was no rush from Washington's allies Monday to answer President Bush's call for troops and money to buttress his policy in Iraq.

Germany, which strongly opposed the war, said it was considering several options, including training Iraqi soldiers and police in Germany, but said it had not plans to send troops.

A minister in the French government, which also opposed the U.S.-led invasion, warmly welcomed Bush's appeal to the international community but made no mention of a possible response.

Britain, which backed the United States on Iraq and played a prominent role in the war, announced it was sending more troops to Iraq, but did not link the move to Bush's speech Sunday night.

Australia, which had contributed 2,000 troops to the coalition assault, had already ruled out sending anyone to help with peacekeeping. Japan, normally a quick backer of Washington, offered a lukewarm response.

British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon (search) said he would deploy two more battalions — totaling some 1,200 troops — in addition to the 11,000 British servicemen already in Iraq.

In a written statement to Parliament, Hoon said the decision followed a review of troop levels conducted "in the light of the evolving security situation in Iraq" and "the increasing military tasks arising out of the reconstruction efforts."

Forty-nine British troops have died in the war, 11 since May 1, when Bush declared major combat operations over.

"This response is not a knee-jerk response to recent attacks. It's part of a strategic plan," Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman said.

There was no rush from other allies to answer Bush's appeal for extra funds.

Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (search), busy kicking off a campaign for re-election as head of the country's ruling party, had no immediate response to the speech.

One of his chief spokesmen voiced a basic understanding of Bush's call for Japan and Europe to chip in funds to help in the security and reconstruction effort, but took the issue no further.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer (search), in a radio interview Monday, applauded Bush for emphasizing that "the job is not finished in Iraq."

Last week, Prime Minister John Howard (search) said his government wouldn't dispatch a peacekeeping force, even if the U.N. Security Council approves new measures to back Washington.

More Americans have died during the war's aftermath than during the major fighting. The overall death count is 287 — 149 since May 1.

The violence — including four major bombing attacks in a month — has raised some concerns about Bush's handling of Iraq, both in the United States and among its allies.

Ghassan Salame, a top adviser to the late U.N. envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello (search), said the most important task in Iraq was to set a timetable for transferring political power to the Iraqis.

Vieira de Mello and other U.N. workers were killed in a homicide bombing last month at Baghdad's U.N. headquarters.

"The situation is not tenable," Salame told reporters at the Foreign Press Center in Paris. He said the fighting in Iraq could spiral into a civil war if action is not taken quickly.

In Berlin, government spokesman Bela Anda said Germany was reviewing a variety of options, but stood by its position that it has "no plans for military engagement" in Iraq.

Germany has pledged $83 million in humanitarian aid for postwar Iraq — two-thirds by the Berlin government and the rest through the European Union, Anda said.

In France, European Affairs Minister Noelle Lenoir called Bush's appeal to the international community "unquestionably good news" for France and the Iraqi people.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Herve Ladsous, refused to comment directly on the speech, saying only that consultations on Iraq were under way at the United Nations.

Some leaders stressed the importance of a stronger U.N. role as a condition for assistance.

Greece is waiting for a U.N. Security Council resolution before making any decision on sending troops, Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said. India reiterated it would consider sending troops for stabilization operations in Iraq only if authorized by the United Nations.

In the Middle East, there was criticism of Bush's bid to bring more countries into Iraq.

"Involving more countries in the occupation of Iraq is not the solution," political analyst Labib Kamhawi said in Jordan. "The solution lies in soliciting the help of the world community to phase out the occupation of Iraq rather than consolidating it."

Emirates-based political analyst Abdul-Khaliq Abdulla said the fact Bush identified Iraq as the "central front" to fight global terrorism indicated Iraq and the region are in for a "long fight and instability" for years to come.